Networking is the simple idea of making connections and building relationships based on similar interests, skills, and goals. It is an effective tool for learning about professions and organizations, making connections in a particular industry or field, and finding opportunities in the “hidden job market.” There are several resources available to you to help you get started and to grow your personal network.
Building Your Network and Getting Connected
Cultivating and sustaining your network is an on-going process, even when you are not specifically looking for a job. Start with thinking about who you already know including family, professors and staff, employers and friends. Then consider affiliations that can expand your network such as volunteer opportunities, professional associations, club sports, Meetup Groups, or spiritual organizations. Getting connected often means getting involved so attend lectures, art openings, book warmings and workshops!
L&C Net is a network of over 2,000 alumni and parents who have volunteered to act as career “experts” to LC students and alumni in transition. Hosted as a group on LinkedIn, alumni volunteers live in locations throughout the United States and abroad and represent a cross-section of industries and professional careers. L&C Net is as an informational resource and there are guidelines in place to assist you in building relationships with alumni and parent volunteers. (L&C Net Handout)
Joining L&C Net: As an active student of Lewis & Clark College, you have access to the L&C Net. All users must first complete a user agreement. Upon completion of the user agreement, you will receive information with instructions on how to join the L&C Net group as part your LinkedIn account. Don’t forget to fill out the user agreement.
Conducting Informational Interviews
An informational interview is used to obtain first-hand impressions of work from people currently employed in a specific field. Think of it as gathering information, rather than a job interview.
This method of collecting information is the best way to find answers to many important questions you may have. For example, what does someone actually do all day long? What are the rewards and demands of a particular kind of work? What are the entry-level jobs? By meeting directly with people, you can also gain deeper insights into the pros and cons of working in a particular organization.
Basic Networking Tips
Contacting people may seem intimidating at first, but remember that most people love to talk about themselves and their work. Moreover, they will be impressed with your initiative and interest. You may develop a contact that could be valuable to you in your job search, and you will gain practice in the skills of interviewing.
Check out our Informational Interviewing handout for more information on the following topics:
- Identifying Contacts
- Obtaining an Informational Interview
- Interview Suggestions
- After the Interview